Four valedictorians address JDHES
By Olivia Robinson
Published July 3, 2018
It was a crowded podium at the J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School graduation ceremony as four valedictorians took turns at the microphone to address their fellow graduates.
Kiera Casey, Bella Smolen, Tegan Wood and Jackson Wilson were voted by the students to deliver the valedictorian address. Tegan acknowledged the unusual nature of having four valedictorians.
“It’s to introduce the fact that pretty much all of you know someone up here on some sort of personal level. It’s to provide diversity of students through their personality,” he said. “Since there are four of us up here, we know certain people that one of us may not. Through our connections to each other, we can connect with all of you in this room.”
Jackson spoke to the period of transition in the lives of these young graduates, having begun five years ago in the transition to J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School.
“We were all new to this school at one time, and the experience of change is universal and one that we’ll all continue to experience not only through our careers, but through to adulthood,” said Wilson. “Transitions can be scary but necessary to move forward in life.”
Many students were already thinking above and beyond the next four years at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School. Students were asked to describe where they saw themselves in 10 years. The results ranged from careers in veterinary and medical sciences, the NHL, photography, animation, architecture, media, the Canadian Forces, and environmental conservation. Regardless of their professions, it was clear that the graduating students at JDHES plan to make a difference.
Bella spoke to how teachers at JDHES taught her class to advocate for others and rely on each other to succeed, which included sending care packages to Attawapiskat First Nation during the suicide crisis.
“When I was going into Grade 7, I started to realize that our school wasn’t just a place to learn math, English or science,” echoed Kiera. “We’re a small part of this community in Haliburton and we have the ability to make a big impact.”